Boris Akunin’s 13 best books

Grigory Chkhartishvili is known under the literary pseudonyms Boris Akunin, Anatoly Brusnikin and even Anna Borisova. He is a prominent public figure and literary scholar, a connoisseur of Japanese culture. Writer Boris Akunin gave life to novels with a detective character, creating them in literary genre combinations: historical, romantic, high-society, political and other. Almost all of the works have been adapted into films and television series. We present the rating-review of the 13 best books of the author, made on the basis of readers’ assessments.

Rating of the best books by Boris Akunin

Nominationplaceproduct nameRating
1Azazel (1998.)4.9
2The Diamond Chariot (2003).)4.8
3Leviathan (1998.)4.8
4Provincial Detective or The Adventures of Sister Pelagia (2001, 2003).)4.7
5The Councilor of State (1999).)4.7
6The Turkish Gambit (1998).)4.7
7Jade rosary (2007).)4.6
8The Mistress of Death (2001.)4.5
9Jack of spades (1999.)4.5
10Cemetery Stories (2005).)4.5
11Black City (2013.)4.4
12Spy Novel (2005.)4.4
13Altyn Tolobas (2000.)4.4

Azazel (1998).)

Rating: 4.9


The most famous novel of B. Akunin’s Azazel. This thrilling conspiracy detective, the first in a series about the talented tracker Erast Fandorin, with which the reader may become familiar in subsequent works of the author. Another title of the work is “The Winter Queen” (translated into English, after the name of the hotel of one of the chapters.

The story is set in late 19th century Moscow, Erastus is still 20 years old and full of adolescent maximalism. While working in a police department, he encounters an interestingly tangled case – the suicide of a student, the heir to a multimillion-dollar fortune. In the course of unraveling the circumstances, Fandorin gets on the trail of a large illegal organization, where conspiracies and politics are involved.

In addition to the line of investigation, Akunin gives Erast Petrovich the opportunity to experience the gamut of feelings from gaining to losing love, takes him through dangerous trials.

The Diamond Chariot (2003).)

Rating: 4.8

The Diamond Chariot

In second place in the rating is the two-volume novel The Diamond Chariot, housed in a single bookbinding. The first part of The Dragonfly Catcher tells the story of two main characters – Good Fandorin, a railway official, and Bad Rybnikov, a spy from the Japanese islands. The focus is on the events of the Russo-Japanese War of the early twentieth century, the beginnings of discontent that preceded the events of national history in 1917. So the Bad One hatches a plan to blow up the railroad tracks leading to Moscow. As in the classics of the genre, the Japanese policeman gets in the way of the Good and prevents the implementation of his plans.

The second part of Between the Lines takes the action to an earlier period – in Japan in 1878, where the famous Akunin detective conflicts with the samurai, falls in love with a woman of easy virtue, faces worldly and professional difficulties. Interesting to read about the teachings on “Murderers and Thieves are Buddhist Chosen Lucky” that the detective attended. Boris Akunin – inveterate Japanese, so the theme of the country slips into many of his works.

Leviathan (1998.)

Rating: 4.8


Leviathan is the name of a cruise ship sailing to Calcutta, on which policeman Gustave Gauche searches for the alleged murderer of a major antiques collector and his family. The crime was committed in the French capital; in addition to the lord’s couple, even his servants lost their lives. The purpose of the mass murder was strange – the theft of a golden Shiva and an embroidered shawl of the Brahmapur raja Bagdassar. The only clue for the commissioner is the badge of a cruise ship passenger on which to look. Ghosh finds all the tourists without a badge and tries to figure out the culprit among them. Among them the reader Erast Petrovich Fandorin, who later completed the solving of the crime.

Later, the golden Shiva is found at the bottom of the Seine. The handkerchief, as it turns out, points to the place where its former owner buried his wealth.

“Leviathan” is the third novel about Erast Fandorin. The work has such an unusual plot that it is impossible to predict the development of events and the ending.

A Provincial Detective, or the Adventures of Sister Pelagia (2001, 2003).)

Rating: 4.7

A Provincial Detective or the Adventures of Sister Pelagia

We present a series of stories about a woman detective and nun Pelagia, whose mundane name is Polina Lisitsyna. She has a sharp mind, keen intuition and a searching talent, so she sets out to investigate 3 cases: the first in the novel “Pelagia and the White Bulldog,” where the focus is the extermination by intruders of the tribal dogs of Father Mitrophania’s aunt; the second is the exposure of a certain ghostly Black Monk on New Ararat (“Pelagia and the Black Monk”); the third, described in the novel “Pelagia and the Red Rooster,” about the murders of members of a motley company.

Akunin himself spoke warmly of the trilogy, emphasizing the complexity of its creation, because the detective is a woman, and her train of thought is fundamentally different from male investigation. The stories have a lot of religiosity, there are elements of fantasy and mysticism. The mix of genres in the author’s spirit makes for a particularly fascinating read to the extent that saying goodbye to the heroine in the last pages of the third book becomes sad, judging by the reviews of readers and even literary critics.

The State Counselor (1999).)

Rating: 4.7

Councilor of State

A detective with a political character from the “adventures of Erast Fandorin” series, featuring the detective already known to readers, “The State Counselor” may seem like a documentary – the author takes the plot to 1981, describing the details of life and the atmosphere of that era. A youth group called the B. g.”, cold-bloodedly eliminates the governor-general. The executor of the crime presents himself as Fandorin and shows documents in the name of Erast Petrovich. But the 35-year-old detective, whose name has been “stolen,” can’t get past it and takes on the task of unraveling the case. He has to find out what kind of organization “B. g.”, why these people have become terrorists and commit murder in the ruling circles. He has to catch up with Prince Pozharsky, who has arrived in Moscow to solve the crime.

Boris Akunin reveals the theme of revolutionary movements and plunges into the theme of political “turmoil,” where people of government have connections with criminals. All the characters have their historical prototypes, which are not difficult to unmask – their names are consonant with the originals.

Turkish Gambit (1998).)

Rating: 4.7

Turkish Gambit

Next in the rating is a detective story about war and spies, “The Turkish Gambit”. The action takes place in 1877, at the time of the Russian-Turkish conflict. Varvara Suvorova is on her way from St. Petersburg to the front line to her soldier fiancé, but on the way, almost reaching her destination, she loses money and is left alone in a certain drinking establishment. Erast Petrovich Fandorin, who has won his freedom from captivity by the Turks, comes to her aid. By a game of dice he gets a donkey, and the heroes set off in search of Varvara’s bridegroom, and find themselves at the location of Russian troops.

The story has a lot of war-related action: unraveling crimes on battlefields, exposing colonels, reconnaissance, choosing between one’s own gain and the safety of other heroes, and much more.

The novel’s characters have real historical prototypes, Akunin created his work based on events that really happened that took place during wartime.

The Jade rosary (2007).)

Rating: 4.6

Jade rosary

Boris Akunin dedicated his collection of short stories and novellas, “The Jade rosary,” to Erast Fandorin, a beloved and vivid character. The work covers the life of a detective outside of his main job, but the unraveling of crime, he is engaged even on vacation, in other countries. Each story is also dedicated to Akunin’s colleagues from around the world, whose works formed the basis of the literary compositions.

“Sigumo” (1881.) tells about the times when Fandorin served as consul in Japan. Then he is faced with the mysterious death of a colleague due to an alleged attack by the mythical Simugo. The short story “Before the End of the World”

-Talk 1882″ takes the reader to Moscow. Lydia Nikolayevna Odintsova’s husband has recently died, and six years ago one of her twin daughters mysteriously disappeared, and no one has been able to find her. Erast Petrovich unravels a case from years ago in a few hours and finds evidence of his own conclusions on paper. In the story “From the Life of Slivers” (1883.) Detective solves the death of a tycoon owner of a railroad company by poisoning. The story of the same name in the collection, The Jade rosary (1884.) will discover why and where Fandorin got the rosary, the detective will solve the case of petty thefts with murders in a jewelry shop. “Scarpey of the Baskakovs” (1888.) introduces the public to Fandorin’s assistant Anisy Tulpanov, who is to investigate the death of the entire Baskakov family. The plot is reminiscent of the Russian-interpretation of the novel by K.K. Rowling. Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”. “One tenth of one percent” (1890).) is a fascinating novel without an ending about the accidental or deliberate murder of Prince Borovsky on the hunt. In “Tea in Bristol,” the action unfolds after “The State Counselor” in 1891, Fandorin is expelled from his native country; he settles in Bristol and investigates the disappearance of Miss Palmer’s family heirloom. In “The Valley of Dreams” in 1894, the detective becomes popular as a specialist in the United States (the plot recalls “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”). “Before the End of the World” in 1897. In preparation for a census of souls in the Arkhangelsk region, several cases of self-burying occur, witnessed by Fandorin, who has secretly returned to Russia. The story “The Prisoner of the Tower, or the Short but Excellent Way of Three Wise Men” (1890-1891) closes the collection.), featuring the famous Sherlock Holmes, Arsène Lulain, and Dr. Watson. Great investigators and one crook collide in one investigation.

Mistress of Death (2001).)

Rating: 4.5

Mistress of Death

The Decadent Detective “Mistress of Death” is the story of a community of the same name whose philosophy is life is suffering, so they take their lives one after another when Death gives a sign – you can’t make the decision to commit suicide yourself. Masha Mironova, who has come to the capital from the provinces, joins the community at the invitation of a friend, changes her appearance and has a little horror. Erast Fandorin finds himself in the same company, and wishes to stop the succession of deaths of young members of the club.

There is mysticism in the detective, an apparent contradiction of adequate investigation, journalistic and political views of one situation.

Jack of Spades (1999).)

Rating: 4.5

Jack of spades

The swindlers of a gang called “The Jack of spades” commit criminal acts in Moscow and are not afraid of punishment, carefully hiding from it. The scale of the scams is staggering in scope, but there is no help for the gang – there is not a single clue at the crime scenes. Anisy Tulpanov, a young 20-year-old agent of the Gendarme Directorate, demoted to the post of delivery boy, having failed to live up to his superiors’ expectations, is brought by fate to the famous detective Erast Fandorin to investigate a complicated case in “The Queen of Spades.

Cemetery Stories (2005).)

Rating: 4.5

Cemetery Stories

A collection of short stories “Cemetery Stories” is dedicated to six cemeteries around the world: Donskoy in Moscow, the Cemetery of the Patriarchs on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Highgate in London, Pere Lachaise in Paris, Green-Wood in New York and Yokohama Foreign Cemetery. Each story – a separate chapter in the collection, in turn, divided into two parts – on the introductory-historical and detective. It’s as if they were written by two authors: the narrative by Grigory Chkhartishvili and the investigation by Boris Akunin. For this reason, Graveyard Stories is called the creation of two writers, although in fact one person worked on it for 5 years.

The stories of the collection are not like other detective works, they are full of heart, mysticism, superstitions of different nationalities.

Black City (2013).)

Rating: 4.4

Black City

Another top rated detective story about Erast Petrovich Fandorin, already a solid detective at the age of 60 years, who this time will have to catch a revolutionary terrorist in the oil and mafia city of Baku. The action takes place on the eve of the First World War. There are many diverse stories and characters in the piece – crime, movie making, adultery and breakups, Japanese culture, and more. The book “Black City” is sure not to get bored while reading. The ending of the novel is unexpected. Will Fandorin defeat his adversary?

A spy novel (2005).)

Rating: 4.4

Spy novel

The plot of The Spy Novel unfolds in 1941, on the eve of the German attack on the Soviet Union. Abwehr scouts organize and execute an elaborate operation to convince the Soviets’ leadership that there will be no attack for at least two more years, to eliminate the state’s preparation for defense. The mission is entrusted to an extra-class agent with the call sign name “Wasser”. Boris Akunin collides German and Soviet spies in the novel and keeps the intrigue to the end, whether the Union counterintelligence, exhausted by repression, will be able to uncover the enemy’s plan and take action.

Altyn Tolobas (2000).)

Rating: 4.4

Altyn Tolobas

The novel “Altyn Tolobas” with its unusual plot completes the rating. Master of History and grandson of Erast Petrovich, Nicholas Fandorin arrives in Moscow from Great Britain to solve the mystery of a document left by his ancestor Cornelius von Dorn, who lived 300 years ago. He also visited the Russian capital at one time. The plot unfolds simultaneously in the present day, where Sir Nicholas is introduced to post-Soviet Moscow and Cornelius von Dorn is introduced to the pre-Petrine era. Boris Akunin reveals the mysteries of the Russian town and shows what has changed in it over the centuries and what has remained the same.

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